Rising temperatures, more rain make life hard for the elderly and hikers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 November, 2008, 12:00am

When you're still sweating in November, you know that something a little strange is going on with the weather - but, in fact, the entire year has been unusual.

October was the hottest since records first began to be collected in 1884 by the Hong Kong Observatory, while September was one of the hottest in more than 100 years.

Hong Kong Observatory data shows that the annual mean temperature rose significantly faster in the period 1989 to 2007 than in the period of 1947-2007.

The increasing temperature is starting to affect leisure activities such as hiking - long a popular Autumn activity.

On October 26, a young man died while hiking in Sai Kung. It was reported that heatstroke contributed to his death. The temperature on that day in Sai Kung hovered between 28 and 31 degrees Celsius.

'The weather this year is hotter than ... in past years,' said Ng Wai-man, committee member of the Hong Kong Federation of Countryside Activities. 'More mishaps like heatstroke occur during hiking trips because of the unexpected heat.'

Despite 20 years' experience, Mr Ng said he and his hiking pals had to be more alert to weather now.

'In the past, we could just go hiking whenever, but now we have to pay special attention to the weather.'

Rainfall is increasing also, with June the wettest month in 124 years, and typhoons continuing late in the year. 'One or two years ago, we didn't have to worry about rain in September and October, but lately we have had to cancel outdoor activities because of sudden downpours,' he said.

The hot weather has also forced many elderly folk to review beliefs that air conditioners should not be turned on at night. The number of 'hot nights' - those with temperatures of 28 degrees or above - has increased in Hong Kong. There were more than 20 hot nights this year, according to the Observatory.

Esther Yuen Pui-yi, a public relations manager with the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, said, 'More elderly have sought help on our personal emergency link because the weather has been too hot. This has only happened in the last two years.'